The Animated Films of Don Bluth
by John Cawley

The Fox and the Hound

THE FOX AND THE HOUND was one of Disney's most troubled productions. It was started by some of the remaining Nine Old Men, but they retired early in production turning it totally over to a newer crew. One of Disney's seasoned and most reliable animators, Cliff Nordberg, died while the film was in production. Several scenes of animation were stolen during a midnight break- in and had to be re-animated by rotoscoping the original pencil tests. Finally, mid-way through production, Don Bluth resigned with John Pomeroy and Gary Goldman. The next day another seven artists resigned; almost half of the Disney animation staff at that time. The feature, originally set to be released in 1980, finally debuted in 1983.

The story followed a fox pup, Tod, and a hunting dog pup, Copper, who become friends when young and then become enemies when old. There was a pointless subplot of two birds trying to get a worm. The whole thing seemed more suited to one of Disney's live action nature films. It is one of Disney's more forgotten features.

Scenes that Don worked on included the barn sequence with the widow milking the cow and playing with Tod as well as the scene where she grabs the hunter's gun and shoots it. Though Don and his crew did substantial work on the film, he (and those who left with him) had their names taken off the project at their request. They received no screen credit on this film. With Bluth's exit, other animators were suddenly thrust into the spotlight as heading up Disney's new animation crew.

Neither the critics nor the public seemed impressed by the feature. The Los Angeles Times said "Enough happens for a solid 50 to 60 minutes, yet this is an 83-minute film, and it sags." The New York Times was equally unimpressed and declared "One of the nicer things that can be said about THE FOX AND THE HOUND, which opens today at the Guild and other theaters, is that it breaks no new ground whatsoever." Newsweek said "Adults may wince at some of the sticky-sweet songs, but the movie is not intended for grownups."

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